When Johnathan was about 10 weeks old, he was sitting in his bouncy seat in the living room while Kaylee was getting ready for a school. She was a few feet away in the bathroom – only a wall separated her from being able to see Jeb. I was in the kitchen – a few feet away from her.
She said, “Jeb’s choking on something.”
I said, “What could he possibly be choking on? He’s strapped in his bouncy seat and can’t get to anything.”
Uncomfortable with my response, she went and looked. “MOM! HE’S TURNING BLUE!”
I dropped what I was doing and rushed into the living room. Sure enough, he was blue and unmoving. I unstrapped him and efficiently performed the infant Heimlich Maneuver. A rock the size of Jupiter came flying out of his airway. He gasped, coughed, and started crying — immediately turning from blue to red. Scott (who was newly 2), who usually had a rock (from our flower bed) in each hand and one in his pocket had apparently thought Jeb would like a rock, too.
Kaylee was absolutely hysterical. She’d probably get hysterical right now if I started talking about it. She kept saying over and over to me, “Why aren’t you upset?”
“Because it wouldn’t do any good.”
And that is honestly how I feel about getting upset before, during, or after a situation. What good would it do?
I am like that about everything. I simply don’t react. I remember calling my mom to tell her that we had to put our old dog Maia down. My mom started telling me a story about putting her cat down a little less than a year ago, and started crying. I remember thinking, “What’s wrong with me? Shouldn’t I get as emotional over a dog who has been my loving and faithful companion for 11 years and who will die today?” I tried conjuring up some emotions and just didn’t know how.
I’m the girl you want around you in a crisis. I become very methodical, very level-headed. I have no emotional response to what’s happening and function very efficiently.
The week after Christmas, I left Gregg and the boys and went to Pittsburgh with my parents. My dad was having a pretty major, kind of scary surgery. I stayed with my mom in the hotel, and we spent our days in the hospital.
It’s never easy to see someone you love in pain – especially a parent. You want to take the pain from them and tackle it for them. But you can’t, so you sit, chat with your mom, chat with the nurses, find dopplegangers for the doctors (the cardiologist was no one but Christopher Walken – it was eerie), and try to determine just how much detail of the day to put in that night’s Facebook status.
My mom doesn’t do well in new situations, so during the days we were there, I learned to maneuver a car I’ve never driven before through a city in which I’ve never driven, and find shopping and restaurants as we needed them. I talked to my kids and Gregg on the phone, and communicated with family through email and Facebook.
I’m sure that it should have been a stressful time, but I never FELT stressed. I felt at ease, capable, calm.
My intent was to take advantage of the lack of children and chores and write all week – to spend my evenings and my mornings at my computer, creating blog posts and writing in my current book. But every night, I sat down to that computer and stared at a blank screen. Every morning I’d wake up and not even feel the desire to even check comments on the blog or see if I had any email.
I was exhausted by 8:00 every night. I remember one night looking at the clock, and it was only 6:30 and all I could think was that 39-year-old women don’t go to bed at 6:30 — find something to do.
It occurred to me early one morning that that must be how my stress manifests. It doesn’t come through in my thoughts or actions, but it shuts the creative part of my brain off. And then it totally drains me.
I’ve been home for two days now and I am just now starting to feel some energy return. My dad is home. He is well. My mom is getting to take care of him her way instead of sitting aside while the hospital staff takes care of him, so she is well, too.
It makes me strange – as a woman – to be so functional in high stress times. Stranger still to be so unemotional about highly emotional situations. Kaylee qualifies things with, “If you felt emotions, you’d understand.” (I must REALLY be bad – haha). My sister is convinced that one day all of the emotions that I’ve suppressed will surface at the same time and they’ll find me in a corner, rocking back and forth, sucking on my thumb.
But, I believe that God made me that way for a reason. Hopefully, it won’t be so that I can survive the zombies or something equally apocalyptic. Hopefully, it’s just so that I can be someone my family can count on when they need it.
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I am not as graceful when it comes to processing stress… I completely shut down. My day and plans need to fully stop before I can figure out what to do.
This summer, during a particularly stressful & drama-filled few weeks, I made rash decisions and regretted them later.
Learning to handle stress with grace is on the to-do list for this year. :)
I am exactly the same way! I can’t believe there is another woman out there like me!!! For me, when the going gets tough, I just hear a mantra in my head: Solve the problem, then it will all be better. It’s like the emotional side of me just shuts off completely… it’s so crazy.
It is exhausting, though, and I’ve learned that my true escape from stress is to sleep. Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep.
I am the exact opposite. I freak out. I’m a freaker outter.
I’m that way in the situation, but it’s not uncommon for me to have a bit of a melt down post-event. I think God equips us for where we’re at.
I wish I could be like you in certain situations – especially conflicts. I have a hard time saying what I need to say without crying when something is really important.
As far as stress, I am emotional and I also hold on to it physically – generally in my shoulders and middle back.
First, I’m glad your dad I recovering at home and your mom is able to care for him her way.
Second, my 12 yo keeps talking about a possible zombie apocalypse so your ending made me suppress a snort of laughter.
Third, I think everyone handles crises differently and the fact that you are able to function through them and not freeze (My M.O.) or run around frantic is a gift and a blessing to those around. My husband is like you, and a candidacy committee told him he was “too good in a crisis …and would therefore seek crisis.” They couldn’t see the value of someone reacting differently. As his wife, I am thankful. (And no, he does not seek nor create crisis, in fact he is very much a ” one day at a time, have faith in God’s provision man.”) To recognize how the stress saps your creativity and energy is also great insight. I’m glad you’re feeling more “back to normal”.
Again, so thankful your father’s surgery went well and that your gifts blessed your family during a difficult time.
I’m not quite that way, but I do sometimes laugh nervously. When I was small, my sister fell and was bleeding and where was I, laughing. I wasn’t laughing at her situation, of course I didn’t think it was funny that she got hurt, it just happened. I’ve done that once or twice as an adult, too. Really weird. But in a serious situation, I tend to want to solve the problem and DO something and think about it later. My mother was visiting me last year and had trouble breathing and we had to call 911-She actually passed out in my arms due to hyperventilating. My first response was panic, but quickly changed to the need to DO something to solve the problem and help her. I was able to talk comfortingly to her when she was really scared and I give God all the credit for that because inwardly I was anxious about her getting enough air to breathe. Afterwards, I never cried, I’ve never been a crier in a situation, but let me sit and watch a movie and boy do those tears flow like a river, go figure. I think God gives us the ability to get us through those difficult times, no matter how we handle it-if it gets us through then that’s what matters, I guess.
I really appreciate this post. My mom used to always tell me that my response to stress was “numb” and though I argued with her, I eventually let go and let her believe that. She is far more emotional than me and it was the only way she could place me. I, however, like to say that my reaction to stress is action or inaction – whichever is demanded by the situation. I, like you, think it’s a great blessing to be able to face great difficulty without panic…somebody’s gotta do it!
I may be a blubbering mess now, but I promise to be there for YOU when they find you in a corner, rocking back and forth, sucking on your thumb. Love you, Sis!
I’m so glad that you live in my neighborhood! I, like you, handle a crisis situation with a level head, which will come in very handy during the zombie apocolypse. However, it will be a relief to know that you have no after shocks, because I, on the other hand, have the freak out moment AFTER the crisis is dealt with! So glad that you will be calm enough to pull us both through! LOL
I love you, too!
I’ll be calm, and feeding you beans out of our zombie hoard!
That’s so awesome that we are the same. I feel less of an oddity now.
Now that I’ve heard your voice, I can totally hear you saying that – haha.
Thank you so much.